World Book Night : from a Giver’s Point of View

Posted Monday, 21 October, 2013 by greylen , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

JLAS_ContribGreylen

Hello all!

I am Greylen, a long-time friend of Jorie’s and a fellow voracious reader. Luckily, my path in life led me to become a librarian, so I get to be around books all the time. I don’t always get too much time to read, being also a homemaker, wife, and cat Mom, but I am forever trying to bring my life back into balance to allow more reading time!

Although I spend a lot of time giving out books and other materials that are free to borrow if you return them on time. Once a year, I enjoy giving away free books that do not have to be returned. For the past two  years I have been a volunteer Book Giver for World Book Night. WBN began in the United Kingdom and Ireland in 2011 and came to the US in 2012. It is always on April 23. April 23 is the UNESCO International Day of the Book, as well as Shakespeare’s birthday. It was also chosen in honor of Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quixote, who died on April 23, 1616 (the same day as Shakespeare).

World Book Night’s mission is to reach out to infrequent, reluctant or non-readers of all ages and socio-economic classes. The books are carefully chosen each year to include a mixture of genres as well as a gender, ethnic, and geographical balance. Also, for practical reasons as all WBN special editions are trade paperbacks, the titles must be available in paperback form. When signing up to be a Giver, you must choose three titles in order of preference.

You may say, well, you are a librarian, why not just direct people to the library? WBN is about meeting people where they are and bringing books to them. Libraries are awesome, but not everyone gets there easily. You may live in an area without much public transportation, for example, as I do. If a person has no car, they can’t get to the library. Also, for someone like the clerk at the local Subway who is working there as their second job in addition to going to school, they don’t have time to seek out what to read for pleasure on their own, but if you put it in their hand, there’s a good chance they may read it in the spaces in between the busy parts of their life.

In 2012, I received my first choice book, Just Kids by Patti Smith. Among 2012’s 30 titles to choose from were The Stand by Stephen King, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. I have admired Patti Smith’s music and poetry for many years and read the book when it first came out. It is a memoir of her life as a young artist in New York and her close relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. It is about art and freedom and all sorts of amazing things. I distributed my books with my husband on the campus of his Alma Mater, The University of Maryland, College Park. We distributed books to members of the University’s board gaming group and all sorts of other random people walking around campus or eating dinner and hanging out in the student union. I was sad to keep hearing “who?” when I mentioned Patti Smith but hopefully the people I gave the book to will check out some of her music and be able to answer their own question!

For 2013, I got my third choice book, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. I am a big fan of Bradbury so I kind of picked this just because it was him. It had been a long time since I read it. While it is science fiction, it is an incredible story about knowledge and censorship and freedom of information and it is a really ironic yet awesome choice for a program focused on giving out books and spreading knowledge instead of restricting it. There were also 30 titles to choose from for 2013, but two were available in Spanish as well as English this time– Paolo Coelho’s The Alchemist, and Sandra Cisneros’ The House on Mango Street. Other titles included Bossypants by Tina Fey, Playing for Pizza by John Grisham, and Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.

More of my friends participated this year– one friend who is a massage therapist in Los Angeles gave out Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and another friend who works at a homeless shelter gave out Walter Mosley’s Devil In A Blue Dress to her clients and co-workers.  Yet another friend who is an elementary school teacher gave out Norton Juster’s classic The Phantom Tollbooth to the more reluctant readers among her students– you know, not the ones begging their parents to go to the library like I was, but after they get hooked on reading, they probably started. One book can change a life.

My husband’s involvement with the board gaming group at his University has pretty much ceased so we stuck to more local places in our neighborhood to give out books in 2013. A local coffee shop was our launching pad, followed by the waiting room of an urgent care walk-in clinic (what a terrible place to be stuck without something to read!) and just popping in to random stores in a local shopping center. Also a couple of pre-teen girls playing in the woods near our house received copies. It could be a bit beyond their reading level, but being someone who was reading the Complete Works of HG Wells at age 8, I try not to assume anything.

I fully intend to be a Giver for 2014 as well. It is a very simple exercise. You sign up entirely online and your books (20 copies of whichever title WBN has chosen for you) are sent to a local bookstore or other collection point (I picked up from Barnes and Noble) the week or so before WBN. There is no cost to you other than whatever gas you use driving around and giving out books. It is very rewarding and engages you with people of whom you might not talk to otherwise. When people realize you’re not trying to sell anything or convert them to your religion (I make it a point to say I am not giving out religious books), they are pleasantly surprised for the most part that someone is giving out something so cool for absolutely nothing in return.

On October 23, six months before WBN 2014, World Book Night will be hosting a live unveiling of the 2014 titles at 6:30 PM EDT. Giver applications open up on October 24 and I will be signing up on the first day, however they are open until January 5, 2014.

Have you ever given or received for WBN?

Do you plan to sign up for 2014?

{CONTRIBUTOR POST: by Greylen for Jorie Loves A Story}

{SOURCE: Badge post lovely provided by Shabby Blogs, with edits by Jorie in Fotoflexer.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2013.

About greylen

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Posted Monday, 21 October, 2013 by greylen in Art, Contributor Feature or Post, Freedom of Expression, Freedom to Read, Literacy Advocacy, Literary Event, Photography, Poetry, World Book Night




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